Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Thinking as we read

I have begun reading Bruce Gordon's biography of John Calvin. I like to be given new insights in biographies, but I don't usually receive one three lines into the preface. This is where the author says that Calvin was an 'outstanding hater'. Given that the adjective usually has a positive meaning, I was a bit surprised to see it connected to the noun. In case you are interested, what he hated was the Roman church, Anabaptists, and 'those people who, he believed, only faint-heartedly embraced the Gospel and tainted themselves with idolatry' (surprisingly, at least to me, the author refers to these three groups as 'things').

The question that came to mind was, 'Why did Calvin hate them?' Perhaps it was because he took the Psalms seriously (26:5; 31:6; 101:3; 139:21-22). So I looked up what Calvin said about these verses in his commentary on the Psalms.

Whatever. The point that I am making is that this biography forced me to think, which is what any good biography should do. So I am looking forward to reading the entire work.

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